In this banner year for black filmmakers, the African-American Film Critics' Association -- which doesn't exclusively honor black-themed cinema, but leans heavily in that direction -- was always going to be spoilt for choice. No surprise, then, to see "12 Years a Slave" take Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Breakout Performance for Lupita Nyong'o, while their Best Picture runner-up, "Lee Daniels' The Butler," won acting awards for Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. Sandra Bullock and Jared Leto round out the top prizewinners, while it's nice to see Andrew Dosunmu's superb "Mother of George" recognized further down. Full list after the jump.
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Welcome to Oscar Talk.
In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is broadcast in special installments throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.
On the docket today…
Here's something I like about Richard Armitage: I don't get any sense that he has any interest in or illusions about being a movie star.
Instead, like most of the people Peter Jackson casts in his "Lord Of The Rings" films, Armitage strikes me as a character actor who doesn't mind vanishing into the make-up he wears as Thorin Oakenshield. My kids are huge fans of both of the "Hobbit" movies so far, and if they ended up in the same elevator with Armitage, they'd never know it was him. The transformation is that complete.
This is my second time chatting with him about the series, and what struck me this time is how much Thorin is already teetering on losing his battle with the rising darkness within him. Unlike Bilbo, who is battling the influence of the One Ring that he found, Thorin's darkness is completely generated from within. There is a madness that seems to set in around the vast mountains of money waiting for him in Erebor, and the closer Thorin gets to fulfilling what he sees as his destiny, the more he seems willing to do anything to anyone to make it happen.
I haven't yet caught up with "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" myself. On my one opportunity to see it this week, it was scheduled against "The Wolf of Wall Street" and -- well, you know. I didn't get on at all with "An Unexpected Journey" last year, finding it narratively listless and visually garish (not helped by the divisive 48fps technology).
But my curiosity has been renewed after a number of trusted colleagues deemed the new instalment significantly superior to its predecessor. Drew McWeeny is among the believers, declaring the film a "thrilling" improvement. Now it's your turn. Do you agree that "Smaug" is a step up? Perhaps you thought the first film required no improvement? Or can you still not get over the division of one slender book into three films? Share your thoughts in the comments if and when you've seen the film, and vote in our poll below.
Rob Corddry and Dwayne Johnson are set to become HBO "Ballers"
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Baz Luhrman & Shawn Ryan are shopping a show about the dawn of the hip-hop era
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I was hit with a pang of sadness this morning when it occurred to me that the Chicago Film Critics Association's list of nominees this year are the organization's first since the passing of legendary Chicago critic Roger Ebert. What would he have thought of "12 Years a Slave," which led the way with 11 nominations? How would he have responded to "Gravity?" What invaluable insight might he have afforded films like "American Hustle," "Her" and "Inside Llewyn Davis," all of which fill out the group's Best Picture slate? We'll never know, and I don't know — it strikes me as particularly unfortunate in a year like this, which has been so, so extraordinary. Rest in peace, Roger. Check out the full list of CFCA nominations below. And remember to keep track of the season via The Circuit.
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Claire Danes recently discovered her college freshman roommate works for the CIA
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The Producers Guild of America (PGA) has announced that Ryan Coogler's Sundance sensation "Fruitvale Station" will be the recipients of this year's Stanley Kramer Award. Established in 2002 to honor a production, producer or other individual whose achievement or contribution illuminates and raises public awareness of important social issues, the honor is of considerable note in a year featuring a number of films that have tackled racial injustice and inequality, Coogler's film being one of the very best among them.
Fast National ratings for Thursday, December 12, 2013.
"The Big Bang Theory" carried CBS to another Thursday night ratings win, while an undignified "X Factor" season continued with the FOX show losing a head-to-head battle with NBC's "The Sing-Off."
Preliminary numbers are subject to change a bit because the CBS affiliates in Denver and San Diego were showing the Broncos-Chargers game, but CBS should win comfortably regardless, with a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 11.32 million viewers overall. Buoyed by "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal," ABC was second (2.2, 7.09 million), followed by NBC (1.2, 3.9 million), FOX (1.0, 3.68 million) and the CW (0.8, 2.13 million).
8 p.m. -- Again, the CBS numbers may move slightly up or down, but for now, the "Big Bang"/"The Millers" combo averaged a 4.1 demo rating and 15.3 million viewers, followed by "The Sing-Off" (1.4, 4.53 million), "X Factor" (1.2, 4.89 million), "The Vampire Diaries" (1.0, 2.41 million) and "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland" (0.9, 3.45 million).
9 p.m. -- ABC took over in first place with "Grey's Anatomy" (2.7, 8.5 million), though new episodes of "The Crazy Ones" and "Two and a Half Men" (2.1, 9.13 million) averaged a slightly larger total audience. New episodes of "Sean Saves the World" and "The Michael J. Fox Show" were a distant third for NBC (1.0, 3.24 million), followed by a "Glee" repeat on FOX (0.7, 2.47 million) and the soon-to-relocate "Reign" on the CW (0.6, 1.86 million).
10 p.m. -- "Scandal" won the hour for ABC (3.2, 9.33 million), followed by CBS' "Elementary" (1.8, 9.53 million) and NBC's "Parenthood" (1.2, 3.94 million).